Uganda: Influx of Congolese refugees assisted in Kampala
29 May 2009

The Good Shepherd Home run by the Missionaries of the Poor assists refugees as well as locals who have nowhere else to go in Kampala. (JRS)
"Among others, refugees give tribal conflicts as well as the activity of different rebel groups and government soldiers as reasons for their flight from DRC."
Kampala, 29 May 2009 — An increased number of new arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been assisted by the JRS Urban Programme in Kampala during the past few weeks. Some of these asylum seekers are not new arrivals as they entered Uganda at the end of 2008 due to ethnic clashes and the joint Rwandan offensive against the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR). Now, as their coping strategies begin to fail they start registering at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and at JRS which grants support to vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees for three months after arriving in Uganda. But the majority entered the country between February and April, and are now searching for three months of food, rent and medical assistance from JRS. Among others, refugees give tribal conflicts as well as the activity of different rebel groups and government soldiers as reasons for their flight from DRC.

JRS staff members have to consider these “new” cases carefully in order to determine the real background and needs of a person and to provide adequate assistance. As per JRS Kampala guidelines, assistance is provided on a case by case decision, with the two main factors being individual vulnerability and duration of stay in Kampala. Normally, refugees who have arrived more than three months ago do not receive any assistance unless they belong to a particularly vulnerable group. However, in case of doubts JRS would tend to rather support one person more than one less.

To distinguish which cases are genuine and which are not can be challenging at times. Indicators like the duration of stay in Kampala until showing up at the JRS office or registering at OPM or the willingness to relocate to a refugee camp can be helpful. To expedite and accelerate relocation to the camp for asylum seekers who are still waiting for refugee status, JRS refers their case to OPM for consideration. For the Congolese asylum seekers the response is usually favorable. If transport from UNHCR is not immediately available and the situation is dire JRS provides transport money to the camp.







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